RALEIGH, N.C. -- The visiting Salem Spirits came from behind to steal a 70-69 win from Meredith College on Senior Day. Four-year seniors Chandler Hines and Meghan Pleasants were honored just prior to tipoff.
Kirstie King returned to the hardwood this afternoon to record her third double-double this season with 12 points and a tie for a game-high 11 rebounds. Rookie Kimberly Schuh led the Angels with 24 points, and Hines finished with 11. Pleasants put up five points with eight boards and her 27th block on the season.
In today's evenly matched USA South contest, the Avenging Angels held a five point advantage heading into the third quarter. Meredith returned from the intermission to push that lead to 10 with help from three early layups from King. But the basket went dry for the Angels through the next four minutes, as Salem chipped away their deficit to trail by just two at 1:28.
Schuh finally finished off an offensive rebound to spread the gap back to four, but Meredith held just a two point lead heading into the final frame.
The Spirits leading scorer, freshman Tyler Davenport dropped in a pair of early free throws, but the Angels knocked down back-to-back jumpers to reclaim the lead at 8:29. Spirit Mikayla Seivers launched a big three, but the Meredith guards maintained their poise to hold onto a one-point advantage. A missed opportunity for the Avenging Angels followed by a foul allowed Salem to edge into the lead 62-60 at 6:38, and neither team would find the goal again until King finally laid in a bucket off a Brittany Preston rebound and assist at 4:17.
Another Meredith foul put Seivers back on the line for two, but Schuh countered with a basket to even the score back to 64.
The Avenging Angels whistled for a timeout at 3:07, but a quick foul put the Spirits back at the line for one. An untimely turnover gave Salem the ball back for a bucket, as Meredith fell behind by three with 2:32 remaining in regulation.
Still down by two, Meredith called for their final timeout with 47 ticks on the clock, and Salem extended the break to move the ball to their front court for the next play. The Angels were forced to foul, and Salem left the door open by hitting just one from the charity stripe for a three-point lead.
Hines was fouled on a strategic three-point attempt, but she missed the front end to leave the Angels trailing by one with 21 seconds remaining. Davenport picked up a steal but missed her free throws on the quick Meredith foul. The Angels missed a tough opportunity on a last second shot as Salem slipped away with the win.
Davenport led the game with 26 points, 11 rebounds for the Spirits, and Seivers notched 19 points with six assists.
The Avenging Angels look now to the USA South Tournament opening round action Wednesday, Feb. 14. at 7 p.m. As the East's sixth seed, Meredith will travel to Averett to face off with the third ranked Cougars. Check back for the full tournament lineup.